The long-awaited choice of a site for a new Macon-Bibb County senior citizens center appears nearly complete.
Macon-Bibb commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to pay Sizemore Group LLC of Atlanta $170,365 to develop a concept design to make a “mega-facility” out of the current Bloomfield recreation center and adjacent former Gilead Baptist Church.
Separately, a resolution sponsored by Commissioner Elaine Lucas to formally select the Bloomfield-Gilead site for the new center is headed for committee discussion and could be back for a final vote Jan. 6.
Lucas said Tuesday that some center users want to talk about the location. No matter where the new center goes, some will consider it an excessive drive, she said.
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The special purpose local option sales tax approved in 2011 includes $2 million to replace the existing senior center at 1283 Adams St. Macon-Bibb officials have debated possible new sites for months.
But $2 million isn’t considered enough to give seniors most of the features they’ve asked for. So Parks & Recreation Department staff suggested combining that money with the $2.5 million in SPLOST funds allocated for work at Bloomfield. About $1.5 million allocated for Bloomfield remains to be spent.
The existing Bloomfield center largely would serve seniors, while arts and education programs for young people would go in buildings on the Gilead property, already government-owned, said Reggie Moore, Parks & Recreation assistant director.
More athletic fields, plus a new entrance and more parking for seniors would be built on the 62-acre site, he said.
Mayor Robert Reichert said the site’s large size would give senior users some separation from youth activities, but they’d be close enough for joint programs as well.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a 30-month extension of Advanced Disposal’s contract to collect trash in the former unincorporated portion of Bibb County. That deal tacitly guarantees the continued existence of Macon-Bibb Solid Waste Department’s collection within the former Macon city limits.
Included is a slight adjustment in service areas, affecting about 2,000 people in north Macon and southern Bibb County, but the agreement leaves intact the public garbage-collection service within most of the former city limits.
Solid Waste Director Kevin Barkley said the extension will give time to develop a comprehensive waste management plan.
There are some areas where public and private services overlap. To minimize that, Macon-Bibb will trade 1,350 houses in north Macon to get 680 in south Bibb, he said.
Contracts for a wide variety of SPLOST-funded work on recreation centers passed unanimously.
Leading the list is $483,000 to Vaughn & Melton Consulting Engineers Inc. of Atlanta for design of the new” Sub-South Mega-Center Outdoor Recreation Complex.”
WMA Architects/Planners of Macon got contracts for design work on renovating three community centers: $261,770 for Rosa Jackson Center, $159,395 for Memorial Park Center, and $93,330 for Frank Johnson Center.
Vaughn & Melton also will receive $27,000 for a master plan of Central City Park. And Stafford Builders & Consultants Inc. of Macon is set to get $993,550 to build a second-story deck at John Drew Smith Tennis Center.
TATTNALL SQUARE PARK
A near-reproduction of a historic fountain has been authorized for the center of Tattnall Square Park.
The Friends of Tattnall Square Park has raised the roughly $300,000 needed, mostly from the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, the Friends group president Andrew Silver has said.
The fountain is to be 18 feet tall and would closely resemble the fountain in the park from decades ago.
Silver and Reichert said Bill Underwood, president of Mercer University, has offered to pay for the fountain’s $16,500 annual maintenance cost.
County Attorney Judd Drake said the approved resolution also allows the Friends group to sell bricks in a surrounding plaza to pay for further beautification.
Commissioners endorsed the conversion of Macon-Bibb County’s Sister Cities program and the Fort Hawkins Commission into nonprofit agencies.
Mike Cranford, Fort Hawkins Commission chairman and a former Macon councilman, said nonprofit status would let the fort and Sister Cities program seek grants from private foundations, which have strict rules on giving. Fort Hawkins is developing more programs and wants to add another building on the property, he said.
Cranford also recently told commissioners that Fort Hawkins is out of money and needs about $12,000 to continue weekend operations while it waits for nonprofit status approval.
Reichert has submitted a resolution, headed for committee discussion, to give the fort $6,000 for the remaining six months of this fiscal year.